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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Friday, October 31, 2008

End "Socialism" in "Real America"

by 3rd Way

How can our next president balance the budget while giving the voters the services they want? The answer is as simple as the question... give the voters what they want. If red states are dead set against "redistribution of wealth" don't subject them to the indignity of participating in such a system.

According to taxfoundation.org thirty two states receive more money in federal spending than they pay in taxes. Twenty of these “welfare” states are projected to vote Republican. Only one of the eighteen states that pay more in federal taxes than they receive in federal spending is projected to vote Republican. If the GOP base is opposed to the reception of government expenditures beyond what is paid into the federal system because it is un-American socialism or even communism, take them at their word and deny red states any funds beyond what they pay into the federal system.

Obama can institute his spending proposals and get close to a balanced budget if he makes the most populist proposal in the history of American politics and gives the red states the policies they vote for while giving the blue states the policies they vote for. If red states want a freeze on federal spending he should freeze the federal expenditures going to them for the next four years. If they want all earmark spending to cease in their state Obama should get out that hatchet McCain mentioned. If they want their health care to be taxed, go ahead and tax it, but certainly don’t give them any tax credit for it. The “pro-America” parts of “real America” certainly shouldn’t be subjected to a socialist tax rebate. If they want to give tax cuts those with the most. Go ahead and cut taxes on corporations and the wealthy, but also reduce spending in those states to accommodate for the lost revenue.

The Democrats should acknowledge the cultural war being waged against them, go for the “nookular” option and make the red states pay for their own stop signs. The GOP base has made it abundantly clear that they want no part of the America the progressive movement envisions. What would happen if the Democrats acknowledged that and excluded them from such an America?

McCain's four-day map

by folkbum


That's the map as I type this. Here's the deal: The light blue states are states that Obama is leading in by less than eight points. The yellow states are the ones neither candidate is winning by more than four. Let's assume that the panicky Republicans who have been balming themselves all week about sample sizes are correct, and that pollsters are oversampling Democrats and inflating Barack Obama's numbers by, say 5%. No, 6%. Does that seem fair? (A 6% bias toward Obama would suggest that the race is really tied nationally.)

John McCain would have to win every single state in yellow, which he would do if his support is overstated by 6%, to get close to 270 electoral votes. Even if he does that, though (and you can all do the math as well as I can), he's at 227 electoral votes, and Obama wins. So McCain must pick off the light blue states--Virginia (13 EVs), Ohio (20 EVs), Colorado (5 EVs), and Nevada (9 EVs). Now, all of those states are outside of the 6% handicap we're allowing McCain--except Nevada, which Obama is winning by 5.9%. With McCain winning all of them, he comes in at 274 electoral votes and wins a squeaker.

To pull that off, in four days (three and a half, now), McCain needs to eat away another two or three percent of Obama supporters in at least those four states--assuming that the polls are wrong. If you look at the national trend, that looks to be close to impossible:

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In the entire month of October, McCain has managed to inch up his numbers, but he's not been able to bring Obama's numbers down much at all. Obama started the month at about 49%, and he's still at about 50% now, down from about 51%, his high. Unless there is a sharp downward movement of Obama's line, McCain will not be able to make up the two or three percent he would need above the pretend 6% we've already spotted him. At no time since McCain's convention bounce have Obama's numbers moved downward that fast.

I'm not saying it's all over, or that we can get complacent and start celebrating now. I am, however, trying to think realistically. Even if the right is right and the pollsters are all "in the tank" for Obama, McCain is still losing right now. In the meantime, go volunteer for a Democrat this weekend.

WISGOP Mailers Update

by folkbum

Yesterday, I posted about the four mailers in two days that I'd gotten from the Republican Party of Wisconsin trying to scare the Obama out of me. Make it five mailers in three days.

The new mailer is also all about guns. Allow me to update my word counts from yesterday:
37 Obama
17 Gun/ Firearm/ Arms
9 Rezko
8 Special Interest/ Political Favor/ and variants
7 Lead/ Leading / Led/ Leadership (to suggest Obama doesn't lead)
2 McCain
You can also add the first "Joe Biden." But still nothing to give me any reason to vote for McCain. It also contains a number of dubious claims, most of which you can read about at FactCheck.

James Wigderson adds a Republican perspective on this waste of GOP money here.

It's hard to get any work done

by folkbum

... when you're obsessing as much as I am watching the Titan Arum. It hasn't bloomed yet, but it's grown significantly taller since yesterday, and it actually looks like the base of it might be starting to open.

Van Hollen v. Lautenschlager: No Comparison

by folkbum

This is a slight follow-up to Michael's post below about Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen's plan to potentially intimidate voters using state Department of Justice agents in polling places.

A line of attack from Republicans this week has been that Van Hollen's predecessor, Peg Lautenschlager, did the same thing. Brian Fraley, in the comments to Michael's post, asks, "So, was it racist and suppression when Lautenschlager did the same thing 4 years ago?" Van Hollen's people have cited it in their own press releases, it's in the AP wire story, it's on Steven Walters's blog, and I fully expect it to be all over the conservative blogs by this afternoon.

However, I would just like to point out why this comparison is ridiculous. (I also hope the Lautenschlager comes out today with a statement to clarify herself, instead of relying on characterizations from the current DOJ of what her position was.) This is Lautenschlager's announcement four years ago (my emphasis):
Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager today announced that the Wisconsin Department of Justice will be sending forty assistant attorneys general and special agents from its Division of Criminal Investigation to polling places in various locations around the state on Election Day (Tuesday November 2, 2004) to ensure compliance with state laws governing elections.

All of the Department of Justice employees participating in this effort to uphold the integrity of the voting process in Wisconsin will receive training from the state Elections Board in the coming week. This training will focus on the rights of citizens to register and vote, as well as the rights of those entitled to observe the election process.
Early on election day, her office followed up with what they were already observing (again, my emphasis):
Wisconsin Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager announced this morning that the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) has already received several reports alleging polling place observers have illegally attempted to turn away Wisconsin voters with misleading and false information.

According to Lautenschlager, persons attempting to vote this morning in Kenosha and Racine were allegedly told by poll observers they are unable to register to vote at the polls on Election Day. Lautenschlager said this statement is untrue; in fact voting day registration is specifically allowed in Wisconsin and attempts, such as those reported, to obstruct the right to vote are illegal in Wisconsin.

"I want to remind all eligible Wisconsin citizens they have the right under Wisconsin law to register at the polls and vote today," Lautenschlager said. [. . .] Lautenschlager assigned Assistant Attorneys General and Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) agents into the field today at polling places in communities throughout Wisconsin, to protect the rights of voters.
It's clear that Lautenschlager's emphasis was on the rights of citizens to register and vote. It may well be that Van Hollen's crew will do some of that, I can't say for sure. However, compare the language Van Hollen is using now to what Lautenschlager's DOJ said four years ago (still my emphasis):
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that as a part of his election integrity efforts the Wisconsin Department of Justice will be sending assistant attorneys general and special agents from the Division of Criminal Investigation to various locations around the state on Election Day (Tuesday, November 4, 2008), to ensure compliance with state laws governing elections. [. . .]

"An individual's right to vote and have that vote counted is the foundation of our democratic system," said Van Hollen. "Citizens also have a right to vote in fair elections, untainted by election fraud. The Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that every citizen's right to vote in a fair election is protected." The Department of Justice will be working with district attorneys, law enforcement authorities, and state and local election officials across the state on election day
The emphasis from Lautenschlager's office in 2004 was protecting the rights of voters. The emphasis from Van Hollen's office in 2008 is to guard against the imagined "vote fraud" that Republicans have been convincing themselves truly exists despite evidence to the contrary.

So when the excuse starts getting tossed around today--I bet Charlie Sykes already has it in his talking points pile for this morning's show--be aware that it's baloney. Van Hollen is playing the clearly partisan role of running down non-existent fraud at the urging of the Republican Party. Lautenschlager was trying to protect voters. Those are not the same, and I do not expect the agents this year to be doing the same thing the agents did four years ago. When you're protecting voters, you act differently than when you're tilting at vote-fraud windmills.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Does WISGOP know who their candidate is?

by folkbum

In the past two days, I have received four mailers from the Republican Party of Wisconsin. Mailers are not cheap, which means the WISGOP is investing a pretty significant amount of money to get me and my generally Democratic neighbors in this zip code to vote against Barack Obama. Whether this is the best use of their money now, instead of, say, heavily targeting a few of the closest State Assembly races where they are liable to lose seats and control of that body, is not for me to say. I don't give them my money, so I don't particularly care how they spend it.

But note that I said they wanted me to vote against Barack Obama. I did a quick tally of some word frequency from these four mailers. See if you notice what I noticed:
34 Obama
9 Rezko
9 Gun/ Firearm/ Arms
8 Special Interest/ Political Favor/ and variants
7 Lead/ Leading / Led/ Leadership (to suggest Obama doesn't lead)
2 McCain
If I just count the three mailers I got today, most of these would be about the same, except the McCain number would fall to zero. In fact, yesterday's mailer, the only one to mention McCain, does so only on the inside of the mailer and does so with the inclusion of a number of flat falsehoods about the Republican candidate. Falsehoods like, "Led the effort for a bi-partisan agreement to address the Wall Street Meltdown" (the truth being, of course, that he was simply grandstanding and in the important meetings he didn't say a single intelligent thing about the problem). Even if it were true, the public is none too keen on the bailout that resulted. There are more problems with the way they describe McCain, but I'll stop there.

In addition, it's obvious that the photos of Obama have clearly had their brightness adjusted to make his skin look darker in almost every single photo on these four mailers. (There are seven pictures of Obama--the undarkened one is a fuzzy shot of Tony Rezko's face with the back of Obama's head--and one picture of McCain, soft-focus, and backlit in such a way as to give him a bright white aura.) They're full of distortions about Obama's record, too, such as the reference to this AP story ominously titled "Obama fundraiser, convicted of fraud, spills beans." The story is clear that Obama is not one of the spilled beans: "But based on the known facts, charges so far and testimony at Rezko's trial, there's no indication there'll be a so-called 'October surprise' that could hurt the Democratic presidential nominee--even though Rezko says prosecutors are pressing him for dirt about Obama."

Pretty sad sampling from WISGOP, isn't it? Four direct mail pieces, all focused entirely or almost entirely on the other party's candidate, all full of half-truths, distortions (of fact and photos), and outright lies. Is this what the GOP is reduced to in the state of its birth? Shameful.

You Can Fight Van Hollen's DOJ Obstruction Efforts

Update: Gov Doyle, Sheboygan DA criticize Van Hollen plan for agents at polling places
Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCocco, a Democrat, called Van Hollen's plan to use state agents and lawyers to monitor polls Tuesday a 'dog and pony' show. DeCocco said his search of state law 'did not locate any mandates of providing prosecutor coverage at polling sites, or any authority to do so.'
'The attorney general has no authority in this state to supervise elections,' Doyle told reporters. He again said the move by Van Hollen is part of a national effort by Republican Party leaders to try and raise questions about the voting process - questions that they hope keep some voters from casting ballots.
by Michael A. Leon

We are faced with our own government preventing us from exercising our right to vote. It's anti-American but it's also a fact that Republicans have no respect for the victories of the civil rights movement.

Father Groppi, Dr. King, Schwerner, Goodman, and Chaney? Attorney General Van Hollen could not give a damn about these heroes and 10,000s more. In Wisconsin, in this election, Milwaukee is ground zero.

[Special Note: See http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/wioffices for a list of Obama offices.]

Fight back on Election Day against Van Hollen's "election integrity efforts."

If you witness any obstruction or intimidation on Election Day by any of Van Hollen's people, call: 1 866 OUR VOTE and report it, and call Obama's people.

Don't back down and don't take NO for an answer for your right to vote. Fight! Bring a friend. Reach out and bring a neighbor or co-worker.

If you have a cell phone and see Van Hollen's hacks harassing or intimidating a voter, document it discreetly on your cell phone camera, and call 1 866 OUR VOTE right away to get the incident aired and rectified.

Or simply take notes, gather facts and report them, and get the ward number and time of day.

Obama's people have 1,000s of lawyers prepared for Van Hollen's last-minute dirty tricks. And polling places throughout the state are filled with numerous Obama supporters working as election inspectors dedicated to the rule of law and the right to vote.

Find your local Obama headquarters and let them know what is happening, especially in Milwaukee where those uppity blacks insist on voting.

See http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/wioffices for a list of Obama offices.

McCain's only shot at winning Wisconsin is to suppress Milwaukee blacks, and they know this fact well. Fight back!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

If you can believe it

by folkbum

Monday next week my school is having--a few days late--the district-mandated mock presidential election (.pdf). Talking about it today, my students insisted I tell them who I was planning to vote for. I did not. "It doesn't matter," I said.

Assuming my reluctance to answer was fear or embarrassment--rather than, you know, just following the rules--they then accused me of being a McCain supporter.

Just thought I would share.

My Talk Radio Debut

by folkbum

No, no, don't start fiddling with the dials trying to find me anywhere; this is all ancient history.

I actually made my talk radio debut when I was all of 13 years old. I grew up just outside of Cincinnati, and AM radio was dominated by WLW. During the era of my youth, on evenings when the Reds weren't playing baseball, the station had a goofball host whose show topics were random and bizarre. His most frequent caller was a "Kenny from Norwood" who always sounded half-drunk and whose commentary was just this side of FCC-approved. (I have occasionally wondered, in retrospect, whether "Kenny from Norwood" was not a "character"; if so, someone managed to pull off years of quality performance art.)

My debut was calling into that show one evening when the topic was things paranormal. I was on a bit of an obsessive kick about aliens, having read a few of those Whitney Streiber and Budd Hopkins books and some others that, in my pre-rational adolescence, had me convinced that such outlandish fables were possible. I don't remember who the guest was, but my 13-year-old self one evening had a significant (for me, at the time) conversation with the host and the guest about The Grays and what threats they may pose to our society.

I'm not proud; just being honest here.

At any rate, that host was named Bill Cunningham. It surprised me to learn that in the years since he's been partially syndicated and that apparently people all over the country--including Sean Hannity, on whose TV program Cunningham often appears--take him seriously.

However, it has not surprised me to learn that Cunningham regularly makes an ass out of himself these days supporting McCain and opposing Obama. I have to say, it shames me to have once been associated with that man, even if I was 13. At least I grew up.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

RIP, Dave Doege

by folkbum

A member of this blog's extended family, Gretchen Schuldt's husband Dave Doege, passed away last Saturday. I am not a terribly religious man, but I offer my deepest sympathies to Gretchen and her family. Take this moment of silence for reflection.























 

Predictions, Election 2008

by folkbum

Yesterday, I offered six questions in a contest (don't forget to enter!). Here are my predictions:
  1. Who will win the presidential election? Obama-Biden
  2. What will be the electoral college outcome? Obama 338-McCain 200
  3. What will be the partisan split in the House? D251-R184
  4. What will be the partisan split in the US Senate? D57-R41-I2
  5. What will be the partisan split in the Wisconsin State Assembly? D50-R48-I1*
  6. What will be the partisan split in the Wisconsin State Senate? D19-R14
  7. Tiebreaker: At what time will the AP call the presidential election? 9:16 PM CST--though it will be obvious long before that.
* The obsessive among you will note that this differs from my January 1 prediction that control of the Wisconsin State Assembly would not change parties. That was before it was clear the top of the ticket would do Republicans no favors this year--close races are more likely to go Dem now than they seemed in January.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pin-Pointing the Wealth Around

Keith R. Schmitz

It is sad to see the McCain commercial where what we take to be average people declaring Spartacus-like -- "I'm Joe the Plumber."

The McCain campaign has been trying to get average Joes whipped up with this notion that money is being given to people who haven't worked for it. I had to cover this smear while canvassing this weekend in Whitefish Bay.

It doesn't take much to imagine the implication about who "those people" are. You got to admire our friends in the GOP. They find a way. Wish they were as resourceful in running an effective government, but hey, that's where their heads are at so you can't expect much better.

Never mind the notion that getting more money to the people who will spend it -- the middle class -- will help the economy. Wasn't that what those economic stimulus checks from the Bush administration were all about? Spreading the wealth in the 50's and the 60's is what built the middle class.

Besides, if you check the comparison charts, the Obama plan will lay out something like an additional $500 in tax breaks over McCain for the lowest income group. If you are into cooking like I am that's not spreading - that's more like sprinkling.

But those of us who have brains -- including Republicans -- know that inherent in government moving around the economic china shop there is always going to be redistribution of the wealth.

We have to look no further than the government bailout of the Wall Street investment businesses. Turns out the support we tax payers are giving to the people who ran our financial car into the ditch will be higher bonuses thanks to money from us Average Joes and future generations of Average Joe Jrs.

OK class. What do we call that?

Redistribution of the wealth.

Very galling of course are the insipid lectures from the moral paragons on the right about personal responsibility. Here there are no lessons in personal responsibility.

What will be the stimuli to let those know that if they commit the same mindless, greedy behavior that caused the current mess that there will be punishment? This is not to score cheap points on cheap shot talk show hosts. It will turn out the rest of us Average Joes are living with the consequences big time in terms of what looks to be massive job losses and other punches to the pocketbook.

When it comes to politicking, Democrats never know when they will say what will be twisted to be the wrong thing. They are always navigating a chasm for which there is no way to determine when they will tumble into it, thanks to the fact that the GOP has nothing to talk about other than smears and distortions of Democratic speeches -- with the gleeful help of the "liberal media". This is what they bring to political discourse.

Barack in his repartee with Sam the Plumber should have avoided the term "spread the wealth," because it isn't quite correct.

Since we have been sheared in the past (though some of you will chime in on how much you like it), he actually should have said re-spreading the wealth.

Ours have been spread around. Time to spread it back into our packets.

Contest

by folkbum

My readership has grown now to encompass legions scores enough of you that a contest might be fun. So here's the dilly, yo:
  1. Who will win the presidential election?
  2. What will be the electoral college outcome? (In 2004, it was Bush 286-Kerry 252. You can use the map at 270towin.com, but don't forget that there are electoral votes in Maine and Nebraska that might be awarded to the winners in different CDs instead of statewide. That map doesn't seem to account for those.)
  3. What will be the partisan split in the House? (Currently, it's D235-R199 with one vacancy)
  4. What will be the partisan split in the US Senate? (Currently, it's D49-R49 with two independents; count Lieberman as an independent, please)
  5. What will be the partisan split in the Wisconsin State Assembly? (Currently it's R51-D47 with one independent; if you think Jeff Wood will win, count him as an independent, not a Republican, please)
  6. What will be the partisan split in the Wisconsin State Senate? (Currently, it's D18-R15)
As a tie-breaker, if needed: At what time will the AP call the presidential election (please use CST)?

The person who gets the most of these answers right will win a copy of Matt Taibbi's The Great Derangement. Chapter two of that book ought to replace the "how a bill becomes law" section of every single American Government textbook in the country. It is enough to make anyone, Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, weep with painful sorrow at the loss of representative democracy in America.

I will offer my predictions tomorrow. The contest closes at 12:00 AM CST on November 4 (i.e., the end of the day Monday, November 3). You may submit your guesses in the open forum of the comments below, or email them to me at folkbum@hotmail.com.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Darts, Laurels, and the Past Week

by bert

Laurel: or gravestone rose, to the late Senator Paul Wellstone of Northfield, Minnesota. As many will remember too well, it was six years ago yesterday that he, his wife Sheila, and daughter Marcia died in a plane crash. I was living in Minneapolis at the time, and remember hearing the news while driving to errands on a crappy, cold Friday.

I was first amazed by Professor Wellstone when the short man gave a barn-burner speech like I had never heard before at a primary campaign rally for Sen. Bill Bradley in the 1990s. While in Minneapolis, I also saw him once having a ball with Marcia when we were all part of a group cheering on the runners of the Twin Cities Marathon.

Call me naive, and I concede that the timing was curious, but I have not bought into the conspiracy theories on Wellstone's death. The right would prefer his lasting legacy be the memorial service they say was inappropriately political. I would prefer that his legacy be his prescient warnings about the war with Iraq that the Bush White House wanted in the worst way.

Dart: To Charlie Sykes for hypocrisy. Look, I don't relish the work of pointing up talk radio hypocrisy. There's so much of it it's like shooting fish in a barrel. It's drudgery on the scale of Beetle Bailey peeling potatoes for KP duty. But it needs to be done, if for nothing else than to show I'm not as dumb as I look.

Last week Charlie chastised the media for dwelling on Sarah Palin's wardrobe budget, because there are more substantive issues don't you know? But I recall that about four years earlier on Charlie's show he devoted at least an hour on the multiple thousands of dollars that John Kerry spent on a bicycle.

Laurel: To Hu Jia, a human rights activist (sort of like a community organizer) now serving a three-and-a-half-year sentence for talking to reporters about China's repression of dissidents. Although not as prestigious, this Folkbum laurel goes along with the Sakhorov Prize for Freedom of Thought bestowed this week on Hu by the European Parliament. The Chinese government brazenly warns the organizations such as the European Parliament or the Nobel Committee to not mention or honor Hu, or else. Now Beijing's got the Folkbum folks to worry about too.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Blow Back

By Keith R. Schmitz

Upstate papers sometimes yield entertaining gems.

Nate Myszka is running a sharp campaign up in Marathon County for the State Assembly, which prompted a letter from a local in the Wausau Daily Herald:
I'm so tired of the nasty presidential political ads. And now we're starting to see the same from some of our local races.

I received an awful letter in the mail the other day from some guy named Nate Myszka. What does a guy his age -- 30 -- know about life? And he has the gall to attack a guy who has worked hard as a farmer and a family man? Not to mention a guy that has done a lot for our area?

Wake up, Mr. Myszka, this is not Washington, D.C. Take your political tricks and go back to where you learned them -- back to Washington. People in Washington are screwing up our way of life. We don't need you bringing those problems here to Wisconsin.

Randall Ross,

Marathon
Which prompted this in the comments section:
Randy's letter refers to the repubican as a farmer. Ha, Jerry never had more cattle than his wife could take care of. And in fact Jerry's main success is making it to his mid 50s without ever working at a real job.

As for Randy, he should love the way Washington is working, he is one of the local farm welfare kings:

Last Name: ROSS
First Name: RANDALL

Rank Name Location Subsidy Total
1995-2006
1 Randall S Ross Marathon, WI 54448 $ 322,294.00

Friday, October 24, 2008

This Map Rocks

by folkbum

Election season brings maps--reds and blues, swings and solids, and so on. But this is my new favorite election map for the season. Warning: It may require a shower when you're finished.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Competing Views on PA

by folkbum

It's going to be an early night November 4, unless we want to stay up to check the series of tubes for updates on the fate of Ted Stevens.

How do I know? John McCain is betting the farm on Pennsylvania, where polls close at 7 PM our time. At about 7:03 our time, the AP and everyone else is going to call PA for Barack Obama, and we can all start drinking (for one reason or another). The pollster.com average for PA as I write this shows Obama with a 15-point lead.



I've read two theories on why McCain is making PA his last stand. One, from Tim Dickinson, is that McCain is just doing it for show, to "create the appearance that he’s still playing offense." That's not a bad way to look at it--McCain is jiggering the optics to suggest that he's not really toast yet.

But I think that's wrong. I agree with dday, here:
Pennsylvania does not have early voting, and absentee voting is restricted. Unlike Minnesota and Wisconsin, Pennsylvania doesn't have same-day registration. So voting is concentrated on Election Day, and the state GOP is trying to make the election illegitimate [through attacks on ACORN and so forth].
Goal ThermometerI've written about this over and over again: All the cries of "fraud" that we have seen (note--these are only cries, not evidence of wide-spread voter fraud) are not designed to insure the purity of the election process. They are designed to delegitimize the inevitable Obama victory. McCain can't win states like PA, but he can raise a fuss that his loss was fraudulent. And if McCain loses by less than PA's 21 electoral votes, then Republicans and their media enablers have an excuse for the next four years to pretend that Obama is not the president.

Personally, I think a 20-EV loss would be a miracle for McCain at this point, but Republicans may still be able to construct the fantasy that the election was stolen across multiple states--like Wisconsin. Which is why it is important that we turn this into a rout. You can help, please. Click on the thermometer and contribute to Obama or some of the local Democrats, please.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Did Delafield move to California?

by folkbum

I missed blogging this yesterday. To understand the title of the post, skim the archives.

Dampen the Rich

By Keith R. Schmitz

The McCain campaign along with Empress of the North Sarah Palin have been whipping up their mobs by labelling Barack Obama's tax plan as socialist. This is of course in lieu of a real program for America part of their brilliant strategy of balling up every handful of mud they can get their hands on and lobbing it out to voters. This is what desperation smells like.

According to this article by Steven Coll on the New Yorker site, the Obama "socialistic" tax plan would soak the rich to the tune of $45,000 per every million in income.

$45,000? Socialism can do better than that.

Sykes and all the rest of the rightie blogs like to treat you like rubes by talking about percentages, but we don't take percentages to the grocery story, send percentages to our mortgage company or use percentages to put your kids through college. That's cash.

We can do math while many around Wasilla are doing meth. Using the 38% at the top bracket, that million in income leaves $620,000, pretty much the after tax income of roughly thirty families.

Throw in the nick this income takes in property taxes and state taxes, plus that $45,000, there is still room for that Mercedes and to cover Sarah Palin's wardrobe.

Still, there will be screaming that government does nothing, so why should anybody pay for it? But there was one thing that has to be dealt with -- the tax cuts on the wealthy which have put us into hock to the Chinese and that did very little solid to juice the economy.

That has to be paid for. Any ideas who can do it?

IOKIYAR, Part II

by folkbum

Will Southeast Wisconsin's conservative bloggers go after Sarah Palin with the same gusto they used to attack Charlene Hardin for her taxpayer-funded jaunts? Palin is a much bigger abuser:
Gov. Sarah Palin charged the state for her children to travel with her, including to events where they were not invited, and later amended expense reports to specify that they were on official business.

The charges included costs for hotel and commercial flights for three daughters to join Palin to watch their father in a snowmobile race, and a trip to New York, where the governor attended a five-hour conference and stayed with 17-year-old Bristol for five days and four nights in a luxury hotel.

In all, Palin has charged the state $21,012 for her three daughters' 64 one-way and 12 round-trip commercial flights since she took office in December 2006. In some other cases, she has charged the state for hotel rooms for the girls.

Alaska law does not specifically address expenses for a governor's children. The law allows for payment of expenses for anyone conducting official state business.

As governor, Palin justified having the state pay for the travel of her daughters -- Bristol, 17; Willow, 14; and Piper, 7 -- by noting on travel forms that the girls had been invited to attend or participate in events on the governor's schedule.

But some organizers of these events said they were surprised when the Palin children showed up uninvited, or said they agreed to a request by the governor to allow the children to attend.
I'm not defending Hardin--on the contrary, I have said repeatedly that if she abused her power as a member of the school board, she should suffer whatever legal penalties can be thrown at her. But Palin's case here is pretty clearly orders of magnitude higher. Dan Bice wrote breathlessly--and the conservative wags fair beslobbered themselves in response--about Hardin's alleged 5-minute appearance at a conference that cost $1200 for her to attend. Palin billed her constituents $700 a night for four nights to attend five hours of a conference in New York, plus airfare for herself and her daughter.

Where is the outrage? Or is this simply yet another case of It's OK If You're a Republican?

IOKIYAR

by folkbum

It has been barely a year since the conservative blog-o-tubes congested themselves with mockery for Democrat John Edwards's $400 haircut. It has only been a couple of months since a local righty went after Marge Krupp, Democratic candidate for Wisconsin's first congressional district (website; give), for her campaign expenses:
4-7-08, $20 for Crest White Strips? Seriously? You expect your campaign to help whiten your teeth?

1-4-2008, $537.95 for, get this, camera friendly glasses?

5-22-07, $261.00 for a campaign suit...

6-1-07, $261.00 for another campaign suit? Same suit? Same price? Different color?

It goes on and on...
I wish I were kidding--those were among the complaints this local conservative leveled at Krupp after seeing her spending reports. I can only imagine how that blogger will react when he learns his new favorite has her own issues:
The Republican National Committee appears to have spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.

According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.

The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September.

The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August.
As I said, I can imagine the reaction--and it will likely be indignation that anyone is bringing this up at all. How dare we go after Sarah Palin in this way? It's okay if she does it, after all. It's okay if you're a Republican!

Different, brief example: Same righty blogger as above complains (in comments here), "Jay, how do you lower taxes on people who don't pay them?" IOKIYAR: "Welcome to the People's Republic of Alaska, where every resident this year will get a $3,200 payout, thanks in no small measure to the efforts of Sarah Palin, the state's Republican governor. [. . .] No wonder she is popular with voters in a state whose residents pay no income or sales taxes."

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Follow Up On Sales Tax Referendum

by capper

Last night, I transcribed the mailer sent out by the Milwaukee County Board regarding the sales tax referendum.

A concerned reader, who wishes to remain anonymous, was kind enough to scan the mailer she had received and forward it to me. To make it easier for you, I then uploaded to a document. You can see the mailer, both sides of it even, by clicking here.

Coincidentally, I thought of checking the county website, as it was my understanding that they would put up their own pdf, but when I checked the site, this is what I found.

It would be interesting to see what had happened to it.

And to said anonymous reader, my many thanks for your thoughtfulness.

Yet Another Exploding McCain Cigar

By Keith R. Schmitz

Sarah Palin, "the foundations of our economy are strong," pallin' with terrorists and now Joe the Plumber. What these all have in common is try as he might, so much of what of McCain tries to do blows up in his face.

Now it looks like the Joe the Plumber allegory has sprung a leak (no righties, this is not an attack on Sam Wurzelbacher).

Looks like people have woke up and realized McCain's economics will do nothing for them -- or Sam.

Monday, October 20, 2008

This Is What Got Walker So Upset?

by capper

As Jay mentioned last week, I had pointed out that Walker was being more than a bit hypocritical when he complained about the County Board sending out a mailing regarding the sales tax referendum.

I had received a special request to transcribe the mailing due to the fact that Supervisors Rice, Sanfelippo, Cesarz and Borkowski do not want their constituents to be informed. It is my understanding that the mailing should be available in pdf form in the near future, but it is still important to try to get the information out so that people won't have to rely on the lies of Scott Walker and his squawkers to make a rational decision. I decided to put it on this site since it still gets more hits than my 2.3 readers, and Jay hasn't changed the locks to the place yet.

The mailing reads as follows (emphasis theirs):

Dear Residents of Milwaukee County:

On Election Day, you will have an opportunity to participate in a countywide referendum regarding taxation in Milwaukee County. This is your opportunity to consider a tax shift plan that would lower property taxes while raising the sales tax to support mass transit; park, recreation and culture; and emergency medical services (EMS). We would like to share with you the facts that led us to place this issue on the November 4th ballot:
  • The referendum is advisory and will not directly result in changes to the sales tax or property tax. It simply asks if you support a one percent sales tax, generating approximately $130 million, to support property tax relief; mass transit; parks, recreation and culture; and EMS (paramedics).
  • A recent study from the Public Policy Forum shows the Milwaukee County Transit System will face a $20 million shortfall within two years if a dedicated funding source, such as a sales tax, is not identified. Deferred maintenance in the parks now exceeds $300 million. Funding for crucial EMS services can also be stabilized through dedicated funding.
  • The referendum question asks if you support removing these services from the property tax rolls - currently paid by Milwaukee County property owners - and shifting them to a sales tax, a significant percentage of which is paid by visitors to Milwaukee County and those who do not own property.
  • The advisory referendum question states property tax relief of at least $67 million. If this policy were in effect in 2008, it would establish a new county tax levy base of approximately $183 million, the lowest level since 1997 and down from the 2008 level of $250 million.
  • Only the Governor and Legislature can grant Milwaukee County officials the authority to increase the County's sales and use tax, but this is your chance to weigh in.

We encourage your thoughtful consideration and urge you to express your preference in this advisory referendum on November 4th. The yes or no referendum question will read:

"Shall the State of Wisconsin grant Milwaukee County the authority to provide property tax relief of at least sixty-seven million dollars ($67 million) by levying a one percent county use and sales tax to be used to removed the following three items from the property tax levy; parks, recreation and culture; transit; and emergency medical services (EMS)?"

Earlier this year, a super-majority of the County Board voted to place this item on the ballot. We want YOU to have a voice in this discussion, and we encourage you to participate in this important referendum on November 4th.

Sincerely yours,

Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors


On the mailing, there is also a bar graph showing that a home in the City of Milwaukee, worth $150,000, would see a 27% reduction in taxes, going from $631 to $461. The graph further notes that property owners in other communties can expect similar savings. It also notes that savings are higher for property worth more than $150,000.

Now would someone tell me what was inappropriate about this, especially in light of Walker's long history of doing much, much worse on the taxpayer's dime?

For even more information about the tax referendum, click here.

Oops, He Did It Again

By Keith R. Schmitz

For those of you who get upset about porcine talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, you needn't waste the karma.

The radio clown today in talking about the General Colin Powell endorsement of Barack Obama literally and comically-tragically yelled into the mike about the endorsement, "It was totally about race."

It of course was not what he said, but how he said it. Chris Matthews this afternoon pointed out that perhaps the same thing could said about Limbaugh and McCain. Do ya think?

With that, if the footage gets played in the media, Barack Obama could probably jump up a few points in key states like the gasbag did in 2006 in mocking the Parkinson's disease problems of Michael J. Fox. That helped several US Senate candidates sail to victory that November.

So, next time you get mad at Rush, save it. He's very useful to real Americans.

The Ounce of Prevention Is Worth Millions in Cure

By Keith R. Schmitz

Conservatives are excellent when it comes to framing. Horrible when it comes to the impact on our lives.

Take their concept "consumer-based health care."

Yes bold men of America. You can bend destiny in your direction and control your health care. You can do it and you should. Take your coverage anywhere, tell medical providers what you will pay and navigate the shoals of almost incomprehensible bills. Never mind your negotiations might have be conducted on your cell phone while the jaws of life pry you out of a wrecked car.

In-house and incessant Journal conservative Patrick McIlheran last week wants the locals to buy into this idea that you too, Mr. Milwaukean, can control your health care.

But, oh darn there is a reality, and that is people are running into problems living real life under high deductible policies that are the cornerstone of consumer-based health care.

The latest issue of the Milwaukee Business Journal runs a story about how the money supposedly being saved using high deductible health insurance -- the kind John McCain wants give you with the $5,000 he will provide families through his socialistic program -- can balloon into big costs. Bear in mind that McCain's gift will fall far short of the $12,000 needed to buy insurance, meaning that the average family at an income of $40,000 will have no insurance at all.

According to the article:
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, 22 percent of 686 consumers recently polled said they have curtailed doctor visits because of economic conditions. Another 11 percent said they’ve cut back on the number of prescriptions they get filled or they’re taking smaller doses than prescribed to make the drugs last longer.

Although local numbers are hard to quantify, Milwaukee-area health care practitioners say anecdotally they’ve seen a similar trend.

Patients putting off medical care are a mix of self-pay patients, people with government health care coverage such as Medicaid, and people with commercial health insurance, practitioners said. About 90 percent of the people surveyed by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners said they had health insurance.

Michael Repka, executive director and chief executive of the Independent Physicians Network, which provides services for 1,100 physicians in the Milwaukee area, said he has heard from physicians in his group that office visits are down. The drop in visits is attributed in part to high deductible health insurance plans, Repka said.
There could be millions of hard luck stories as a result of these schemes, especially if McCain has his way and employers abandon their health coverage. From personal experience my grandmother passed away just a year before the advent of Medicare because she tried to save money by cutting her high blood pressure meds in half. A lot of good cost savings did her.

McCain wants to throw people onto the market and it is in this country ladies and gentlemen, very predatory. Look at the lending industry. The airwaves on both radio and the TeeVee are filled will commercials enticing people to wipe their bills with second mortgages, mostly of course to pay off medical bills. Many of the people who were tossed onto subprimes had good credit, but they were not able to understand what they were getting into.

There are some things that people can do, like rewiring a house, and we admire them for that. But it is not smart for most to try.

The idea that people really aren't equipped to cipher their medical bills is no slight to the intelligence of the American people as the right wing would like you to think, but they love to appeal to the public ego. I know someone who is in upper management at a leading university teaching hospital who says even she can't figure out the bills.

Yes, these programs have business implications. If we even hope to have a functioning consumer economy we can't have consumers with zero discretionary income because medical bills have sopped all of that up into an insurance sponge.

Let's just call this "solution" what it is. Cost shifting onto already cash-strapped families.

Americans are finally waking up to the fact that other places around the world can provide public health care programs and actually save money doing. The studies and facts are clear as water. It is time we demand it for ourselves.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Yikes! Now ACORN is changing registered Republicans into Democrats!

by folkbum

Or not.

Remember, it's us lefties who are "full of hate" (UPDATED)

by folkbum (update below)

November 2004 was not a fun time for me. I remember sometime around 2 AM after the election returns were in sending off money to John Kerry's legal fund to fight whatever challenges he would pursue, I remember knocking out a couple of really bitter posts here, I remember being quite angry that the rest of the country couldn't see what I saw.

But I never went this far:
Police in Caledonia are investigating the assault of a campaign volunteer as she was canvassing for Senator Barack Obama Saturday afternoon.

In an exclusive interview with 12 News, 58 year-old Nancy Takehara of Chicago says she was going door-to-door when she came across a disgruntled homeowner.

“The next thing I know he’s telling us we’re not his people, we’re probably with ACORN, and he started screaming and raving,” Takehara said. “He grabbed me by the back of the neck. I thought he was going to rip my hair out of my head. He was pounding on my head and screaming. The man terrified me.”
This man--a Wisconsin man--allegedly assaulted an Obama volunteer, a fifty-eight-year-old woman. He threw everything at her that the McCain campaign and the righty blogs and the conservative media have been repeating for weeks: Obama's not a real American (she was "not his people"), ACORN is the root cause of everything bad in this country (credit crisis, vote fraud, and so on). This guy is a true believer. And he's the one full of hate.

And it's not just this guy: Smarter people than I have been chronicling the assualts--on individuals as well as reason--happening before, during, and after campaign appearances by John McCain and Sarah Palin. A hundred thousand people turned out to hear Obama in St. Louis yesterday, and no one got hurt.

But remember, we have been told for years--we're still being told now!--that it's Democrats and "lefties" ("libtards," some prefer to call us) who are full of hate. I call that projection, not fact. Look in the mirror, fellas. It's not us.

UPDATE: In comments, John notes that one Racine County conservative blogger has gone into "full hate mode." In fact, that blogger posts this story in response to the news that one of his (ideological and near-geographical) neighbors allegedly attacked a 58-year-old woman:
In 2004, there was a goon here from one of the lefty 527s that tried to force me to take his piece of garbage. When I wouldn’t, he tried to stick it on my door. I followed the bastard down the street and shoved it back in his bag. It took a neighbor who happens to be in law enforcement to separate us.
What's amazing about this is that the blogger in question posts it because he's proud of it. He posts is because he thinks it makes the canvasser look bad, not him. He could have closed the door, he could have balled the flyer up and thrown it in the canvasser's face and then closed the door. He could have called 911 to report a trespasser. But no--he chases the guy down and man-handles him in the street such that a neighbor has to break it up.

There's your anger, folks. There's your hate.

John McCain -- Socialist

By Keith R. Schmitz

Think back in the not too distant past when the McCain ads and his winger Greek chorus were lying (that in the McCain campaign is known as "advertising") about how Barack was going to "raise your taxes."

That assertion got spanked real good in the real media and by other independent sources as an outright lie.

So it was time for Jeffery Dahmer look-alike Rick Davis to retool. True that those under $250,000 a year -- including Sam "Joe" the Plumber -- would be seeing their taxes drop lower under the Obama plan.

So Davis and company had to get people's minds off of that benefit with guess what kids?

A good old fashioned appeal to racism!

Because some folks who pay no taxes would get a tax credit, something once weighed by Richard Nixon as a way to eliminate welfare, average people are made to forget about how they themselves would make out and get resentful about you know who.

"Robbing" from the upper incomes to fund this tax credit is being labelled by the right wing regimented as socialism. Thank God we get to bring that term out of mothballs. For the right wing, the classics never go out of style.

But whoa, wait a minute. Focus for a minute on what McCain is proposing when it comes to health care. Aren't you on the right getting all jiggly about McCain looking to provide everybody in America with a tax credit to get into a private health insurance plan? This would fund the fantasy of "consumer health care."

So if everyone gets this credit, wouldn't that include people who now pay no income tax?

So contestants, what's the difference between the "socialistic" Obama tax plan and the McCain health care plan?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

What's Happening on the Emerald Coast?

By Keith R. Schmitz

h/t Jim Rowen

Love those fun toys on the Internets.

Phil Ball with the Isthmus in an article on the grassroots vitality of the two presidential campaigns invites you to try out their widgets for finding events within a chosen area by plugging in a zip code.

Ball tries a couple of areas to demonstrate that the Obama campaign has a lot more going on than McCain, particularly in Wisconsin.

Take a whack. Here's McCain's widget. Here's Obama's.

My mother lives in Destin. It sits on the Emerald Coast on Florida's panhandle, perhaps one of the most conservative coast. I get great amusement reading the out of this world letters to the editor from the wailing residents that see ink in the Fort Walton Beach paper.

So what's happening within a 25 mile radius of 32541?

If you want to take in an event for John McCain there are none. Barack will keep you busier with 12 events going on within an easy drive of Destin.

Will Obama carry Okaloosa County? Highly unlikely.

Will the infrastructure be in place to give trouble to the GOP and grow the grassroots?

You betcha.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fraley's fix = FAIL

by folkbum

Yesterday, I posted about GOPerative Brian Fraley's posting of a Communist party rant and attributing it to Barack Obama. I gave Fraley the benefit of the doubt that he had been duped, though I think we all knew he wasn't. But I gave him an out if he wanted it.

Instead, he updated his post this morning:
I tried to bait Obama supporters to show their blind allegiance to The One. [. . .] I had even held all comments so that no one could ‘warn’ folks that the quote was indeed from the CUSA site. [. . .] Alas, no takers on the bait.
Yes, how sad for him that Democrats are not as stupid as he thinks we might be.

But Fraley's excuse for his behavior is worse:
Obama’s interaction with Joe the Plumber was quite revealing to many who hadn’t examined the Obama economic plan to date. He believes in establishing a new welfare state, to be ‘fair’ and redistribute wealth (Spread the wealth around), including taking Joe’s would-be income to provide income tax ‘credits’ to those who pay no income taxes.

Each according to his abilities to each according to his needs, right? Fight on Comrades!
The problem, of course, is that Barack Obama said no such thing to Joe the Plumber. The miracle of taking things out of context has provided endless bounty for Republicans during this campaign, and Fraley is its beneficiary now. Hilzoy provides the actual transcript of Obama with our new idol Joe:
My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody. If you've got a plumbing business, you're going to be better off if you've got a whole bunch of customers who can afford to hire you, and right now everybody's so pinched that business is bad for everybody, and I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody.
Yes, the phrase "spread the wealth around" does appear in what Obama said, but you have to excise the context and twist Obama's meaning to get anything Communist (or communist) out of that. Nowhere does Obama say he will "establish a new welfare state" or do anything to "redistribute wealth." Indeed, it is clear that Obama is supporting the idea of a strong economy for all, not just a strong economy for the wealthy (which is, after all, what we've had for the last 30 years). When more people can afford to hire Joe the Plumber (once he gets that pesky plumbing license), Joe the Plumber will have a better life for himself. That's "spreading the wealth around."

If Fraley has a problem with a strong economy at all levels (or if Fraley has a problem with reading comprehension), then that's his problem, and no amount of trying to "trap" anyone will make up for it.

Do as I say, not as I do

by folkbum

Scott Walker? Hypocritical? Noooooo ....

OMG! ACORN has taken over SCOTUS!!!!!!!

by folkbum

Someone needs to peel back Antonin Scalia's head to make sure he hasn't been replaced by an ACORN-programmed cyborg from the future:
The Supreme Court sided Friday with Ohio's top elections official in a dispute with the state Republican Party over voter registrations.

The justices overruled a federal appeals court that had ordered Ohio's top elections official to do more to help counties verify voter eligibility.

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, faced a deadline of Friday to set up a system to provide local officials with names of newly registered voters whose driver's license numbers or Social Security numbers on voter registration forms don't match records in other government databases.

Ohio Republicans contended the information for counties would help prevent fraud. Brunner said the GOP is trying to disenfranchise voters.

In a brief unsigned opinion, the justices said they were not commenting on whether Ohio is complying with a provision of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 that lays out requirements for verifying voter eligibility.

Instead, they said they were granting Brunner's request because it appears that the law does not allow private entities, like the Ohio GOP, to file suit to enforce the provision of the law at issue.
That sound you hear is a thousand conservative bloggers' heads exploding in unison.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Raaalphieeee! Don't leeeeeave meeeee! Raaaalpheee!

by folkbum

(Thanks to grumps.)

Fraley's Daily Forwards, Redux

by folkbum

When last (well, first) we played this game, Brian Fraley, who has had his fingers in all kinds of Wisconsin GOP pies and currently hosts a bunch if WILFs, had mindlessly applied a right-wing forwarded email as a "daily take" of his, seemingly passing it off as his own research.

Today, I was alerted by an astute but pseudonymous tipster that Fraley seems once again to be playing the post-an-email-forward game*. Fraley writes,
Attention Obamaniacs: Please, read this latest Obama missive and tell me that I’m wrong. Because, when I read this I see, not only a socialist, but a Communist.
Laying down the gauntlet, he is, demanding that we pro-Obama forces read and then defend the "latest Obama missive" from charges of Communism.

Now, I'm on the Obama email list, and, while I don't read every single one of those emails all the way through, I have a pretty good sense of both how Obama writes and what kinds of policies Obama supports. And Obama is certainly no Communist. Yet here, in part, is what Fraley attributes to Obama--without a link of any kind, of course:
In the longer term, what is required is a new model of economic governance at the state and corporate level. By that I mean a reconfiguring of the role and functions of government and corporations so that they favor working people, the racially and nationally oppressed, women, youth and other social groupings. [. . .]

In my view, such a model should draw from the New Deal experience, but in the end it has to be shaped in the first place by today’s conditions and requirements for political and economic advance for our nation’s working people and oppressed people, broadly defined. It won’t be socialist, but it would challenge the power and practices of the agents of capitalism, insist on peace and equality, consider public takeover of our energy and financial complex, and de-militarize and green our economy and society.
I have never heard Obama call for a takeover of any "complex" of any kind. Obama does not use rhetoric like "oppressed people" or "agents of capitalism." This smells bad for Fraley.

So I grabbed a sentence from the bit that he posted, and googled it. The first hit? Communist Party USA. Right after the title of the article, "OPINION: Finances and the current crisis: How did we get here and what is the way out? Part 2," there's a byline--"Author: Sam Webb, National Chair."

That's right: Fraley has attributed an opinion piece written by the national chair of the American Communist Party. No wonder Fraley says he sees a Communist as the author of the piece--the author is a Communist! But the author is not Barack Obama.

No doubt--because I do not believe Brian Fraley is so malicious that he would concoct this lie himself--he got one of those ubiquitous email forwards claiming "OMG! Look what Obama's campaign just mailed to supporters! Obama's a Communist!" And, rather than do the simple work of googling the piece and seeing that, indeed, Obama was not the author, Brian just plows right into the smear on his blog. He demands that someone come in and defend Obama for writing something that Obama did not and would not write.

The best part, of course, is that Fraley ends his post with "Why is my take wrong? [. . .] Your forum. Go for it." It's the best part because, if you leave a comment to tell him why his take is wrong, it goes off into the ether somewhere to await moderation without so much as a notice that moderation is even enabled. "Our forum" seems nothing of the sort.

* NOTE: The post-somebody-else's-work game is not unique to Brian, and it is normally not worth commenting upon, as everyone does it all the time. My complaint here is not that this is what he's done, but rather the laziness or willful ignorance that led him to post the specific content that he did.

Last night's debate in 3 minutes

by folkbum

I didn't watch, so I'm glad someone whipped this up:

Joe the Plumber Benefits under Obama

By Keith R. Schmitz

OK, let's bite on this one since we will be hearing about Joe ad infinitum for the next few days or so until attendees at Palin rallies who have so little self control they will make the top of the news again.

Let the Joe the Plumber wars begin!

Three points where Joe would do better under an Obama administration:

1) He is clearly under the $250,000 level where he would benefit from McCain's tax program. At less than that income he does better based on Obama's program.

2) He would get a small business health care benefit based on Obama's program.

3) He would get a $3,000 tax credit per each new job based on Obama's tax plan.

And one more:

Since trickle down doesn't work he would have more customers who could afford his services.

Wow ... ACORN seems to have gotten to FOXNews, too!

by folkbum



Remember, if Barack Obama wins, it could only be because ACORN is rigging the process. Here they've clearly put Frank Luntz and Brit Hume in the tank for Obama to legitimize the thievery!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wisconsin GOP: Black people are "intimidating"

by folkbum

(hat tip to gnarlytrombone in the comments to an earlier post)

I'm not sure how I missed this story, but Jesse Taylor at Pandagon points to the WaPo and a message from the Wisconsin Republican Party:
Jonathan Waclawski, the party's election day operations, wrote in a Sept. 8 e-mail that he needed contact information for people "who would potentially be willing to volunteer ... at inner city (more intimidating) polling places. Particularly, I am interested in names of Milwaukee area veterans, policemen, security personnel, firefighters etc. ... If you have any connections with such organizations, please pass that information on."
See, to the GOP, black people are scary. (This is another reason why Republicans are whinging about ACORN's success at registering 1.3 million new voters this year--most of those new voters are not white.) What do they think will happen at these places? Riots? (Note: What digby said.) What are GOP poll "watchers" planning to do that they think they might set off riots?

Your modern Republican party, folks! GOPers, stand up and take a bow, why don't you?

More Kids, Less Money

by folkbum

Gretchen Schuldt once again gets to the heart of why the state's school finance system is (&*^&%$)*&ed up:
MPS enrollment is higher than expected.

The more students a district has to educate, the more expensive it is. That is pretty intuitive math.

The irony is that the increased enrollment in MPS means the district will be able to raise less revenue. Crazy, but true.
This is as insane as the fact that, because last year we did not tax Milwaukee residents at the maximum level, we are getting less state aid this year. It adds insult to injury to lose millions more in state aid because we have more students than expected. What can MPS do right anymore that won't result in cuts in funding from the state?

Bill Maher vs. The Wingers, week 2

by folkbum

I forgot to mention this earlier, but Bill Maher's still winning. Quite handily.

Charlie Sykes: Delusions of Pander

by folkbum

I don't have a job that lets me listen to Charlie Sykes in the mornings. I'm not sure, anyway, that after teaching one bunch of adolescents all day I would want to listen to another on the radio anyhow.

But I am glad there are others out there who can keep an ear on Sykes. The Brawler, for example, caught Sykes saying that he believes Democratic "vote fraud" will be the deciding factor in the November election.

(Pause for laughter.)

All of this is hooey, of course; the whinging about ACORN and fraud are all designed to do one thing, which is to delegitimize a Barack Obama presidency. Charlie thinks he can convince himself, and enough of his listeners, that but for the likes of ACORN and "voters" named "Mickey Mouse," John McCain would be our next president--and that would make anything Obama says or does illegitimate despite what may look like a landslide and a mandate.

Has Charlie seen this? That's pollster.com, not ACORN, showing (as I type this) a nine-point composite lead in the polls for Barack Obama. Obama's at a majority, 51.2%, meaning if every undecided voter broke for John McCain in the next two weeks, McCain would still lose by a greater margin that Al Gore and John Kerry combined. pollster.com also estimates that Obama has 320 safe electoral votes right now, 50 more than needed to win the presidency.

How on earth does Charlie Sykes think that ACORN is skewing the polls? Could he really believe that every media organization on the planet is being played by Democratic fraudsters to show an overwhelming Obama lead? Does he think that the polls today are somehow being gamed as cover for the massive fraud that we have planned to execute on election day?

Or, more likely, is he just delusional? Maybe bitter and angry over the fact that this country has clearly left him behind? That Wisconsin will vote more strongly for Obama than for Gore or Kerry?

My vote is the latter--Charlie Sykes is losing it. He is, as a famous man once said, rejecting reality and substituting his own. The polls are meaningless. The truth is meaningless.

Well, here's news for you, Charlie: If that's the way you feel, you're the one who's meaningless.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

McIlheran: Allergic to Logic

By Keith R. Schmitz

Classless, tasteless, brainless, witless, more less than meets the eye, the day to day display of Patrick McIlheran in ink and on the web by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel must be a perpetual practical joke on the right wing readers.

They think that the paper is making up for its, in their view, hideously liberal content giving this lone voice in the wilderness a hearing. Never mind that the Journal Company is providing over six hours of in kind donations to the GOP with their line-up of hitters on right wing unreality, led off by the redoubtable Charlie Sykes, spewed throughout the great state of Wisconsin.

For the rest of us, this is burlesque and non-stop inanity.

Witness Paddy Mac's latest offering. Most endearing is his faux populism, which from time to time he proves is phony in this blog post on the closing of the Janesville GM plant, in which he proclaims, "If you hated SUVs, you're happy now, right?"

As with all great events, Paddy leaves out the great men who made things happen. In this case the management of GM who failed to recognize where the price of oil was heading.

The eventual tightening of the oil supply is something that was well known to many industry experts and economists, something that many saw coming.

But why was nothing done? Because in the corporate world those who make quarterly targets are richly rewarded and nobody dares to suggest retooling the product line into something less profitable yet marketable. It was no wonder that the padlocked doors at the Janesville Plant would be the result.

But as usual in Paddy's world the workers get to eat the dirt while those responsible get to bail out with golden parachutes.

And who caused this? Environmentalists. What a beautiful mind.

One more thing. Paddy came out of his elitist closet on Sunday in his column about the Obama tax plan. By the way, if you want to get the number on your savings, click here.

As you all know one of the prime McCain campaign lies was that Obama was going to raise your taxes. Now after countless independent analysis and non-partisan articles have blasted that myth, there is a new attack as laid out in McIlheran's Sunday column.

This champion of the common man wants us to cry bitter tears because "Uncle Sam takes money from someone else and gives it to you." He is now turning the "welfare cheat" charge...on us! Brilliant way to bring together the races.

Things are really getting desperate with right wing because Paddy lives right in the echo chamber, but now he is urging us to deny ourselves the tax cut and feed it into the trickle down machine, which now Americans recognize as being truly on the fritz.

I used to get ticked over McIlheran's columns. Now it is impossible to not feel entertained and, I hate to say it, superior.

Let us hope that ACORN doesn't register those 8th graders to vote

by folkbum

The local right--and, by now, the national right is too--is up in arms over an 8th grade literature textbook's inclusion of a speech by Barack Obama in its section on literary speeches. The speech in question, Obama's speech to the 2004 Democratic convention (YouTube link), which is farily non-partisan (for a convention speech), is a master of oratory and rhetoric. If my current crop of 9th-grade students could write half as well as Obama does with that speech, I would quite literally weep for joy.

The textbook includes no mention of Obama's being a candidate for president. And, given textbook publishers' lead times (I have sat on the committees; I have met their representatives), when the current version of the book was put together, Obama was almost certainly not officially a candidate yet. In other words, the book may say ©2008, but it was likely assembled in 2005 and distributed in 2007. The McDougall-Littell people might be able to provide a better timeline; however, when I was reviewing texts for an adoption committee, we had advanced versions with copyright dates 18-24 months out.

From what I understand, the textbook also includes no discussion of Republicans v. Democrats, and Obama's speech itself is quite post-partisan. He talks about service as duty and how being a good person is not dependent on your Red or Blue status. I suppose conservatives and Republicans might take issue with such a hopeful, post-partisan message, but personally I think teaching children the value of self-worth outside of labels is not a bad thing. (And, as I said, teaching them to write as well as Obama would be an awesome thing.)

When building the non-fiction section of a literature textbook, particularly when you start thinking about speeches, any attempt to be contemporary is inevitably going to raise a question. Is the Kennedy speech in the texts I have sitting in my classroom at school partisan and political? Would a speech by King be? Probably not, you would say, likely because those are all 40 years old. But what about a speech by Reagan or Clinton (who, like Obama, both gave good speech)? Is the mere fact that Obama is a contemporary politician enough to disqualify him from inclusion in literature texts? And if there were a contemporary Republican (certainly neither Bush nor McCain fits this bill) as gifted as a writer and speaker, would her inclusion also be automatically disallowed because her words might similarly be too relevant to students' lives?

And how do the complaining conservatives think those 8th-graders are going to affect the vote?

In the end, perhaps the publishers should have considered that Obama's career was not over and there was a strong chance that he would be a national figure in coming years. But taking a fairly non-partisan speech by a contemporary figure (one with, as it turns out, about a 2/3 approval rating from the public at large) and using it to teach students how to craft their own writing is not a crime, not a give-away to a political party. Turning your 8th-grader and his textbook into a headline to benefit your candidate, on the other hand ...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Let us all hope

by folkbum

That this never happens in America.

ACORN-supporting candidate delivers rousing keynote at pro-immigration rally

by folkbum

But not who you think:
Leaders from a diverse array of sectors will hold a rally in Miami on Thursday, February 23, 2006, in support of comprehensive immigration reform in an effort to keep immigration reform at the forefront of the public debate. Leaders from both political parties, immigrant communities, labor, business, and religious organizations will gather to call on Washington to enact workable reform.

The rally will feature Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) as the headline speaker along with elected officials, immigrants and key local and national leaders. Sen. McCain is one of the chief sponsors of the Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act; bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform legislation introduced last Congress and scheduled for consideration by the Senate in the coming weeks. A similar rally with Sen. McCain is planned for New York City on February 27. [. . .]

The rally in Miami is being sponsored by the New American Opportunity campaign (NAOC) in partnership with ACORN, Catholic Legal Services - Archdiocese of Miami, Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Miami Dade College, People for the American Way/Mi Familia Vota en Acción, Service Employees International Union, and UNITE HERE
As Bart Simpson would say, the ironing is delicious.

Paul Krugman at the Big Tent Event in Denver

By Keith R. Schmitz

In honor of Paul Krugman being named Nobel laureate in economics today, I put up on YouTube the video I shot at the Big Tent Event in Denver during the week of the Democratic Convention.

Krugman talks about how the election will unfold, what will happen after the election, what should happen after the election in terms of health care reform and about the progressive political majority in the US.

The only incumbent Democrat to lose this fall

by folkbum

... should be Tim Mahoney. Should he win, sounds like there are plans afoot to challenge him in the primary next time around.

(Quick update to add: Forgot about William Jefferson. I can't believe he's beaten two primary challenges.)

Don't just reprint lies because someone says them. Please call them lies.

by folkbum

Reporters are supposed to report facts, yes? And when someone gives you statements that don't square with reality, it's your responsibility as a reporter to point that out, right?

So tell me why Diana Marrero just lets Republican Jim Sensenbrenner lie?
For Sensenbrenner [the current economic crisis] dates back to the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 that required banks to offer credit in every market they served. The act forced banks to lend to “those who lack the ability to pay,” Sensenbrenner says.

The problems created by the law were exacerbated by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Sensenbrenner says. The private mortgage companies, which were recently taken over by the government, were able to borrow money at low rates thanks to the government’s implicit financial backing. Critics say they took too many risks with borrowers and grew too big, holding or backing about half the mortgages in the United States.

“I thought the agencies were out of control and the crisis proves it,” Sensenbrenner said, referring to some of the loans being given out by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and other lenders as “NINJA” mortgages, as in no income, no jobs, no assets. “Giving mortgages to those types of people was a recipe for disaster,” Sensenbrenner says.
Later in the story, Marrero offers a half-hearted "depends on who you ask" excuse for not calling Sensenbrenner on these falsehoods, given that lots of Republicans and Republican sympathizers have internalized the Fannie Mae/ Freddie Mac/ CRA line of crap as the truth. The problem is, that line of crap is in fact a line of crap. More responsible news organizations have done the research to lay that myth conclusively to rest:
Commentators say that's what triggered the stock market meltdown and the freeze on credit. They've specifically targeted the mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which the federal government seized on Sept. 6, contending that lending to poor and minority Americans caused Fannie's and Freddie's financial problems.

Federal housing data reveal that the charges aren't true, and that the private sector, not the government or government-backed companies, was behind the soaring subprime lending at the core of the crisis. [. . .] Fannie and Freddie, however, didn't pressure lenders to sell them more loans; they struggled to keep pace with their private sector competitors. In fact, their regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, imposed new restrictions in 2006 that led to Fannie and Freddie losing even more market share in the booming subprime market. [. . .]

Conservative critics also blame the subprime lending mess on the Community Reinvestment Act, a 31-year-old law aimed at freeing credit for underserved neighborhoods. [. . .] What's more, only commercial banks and thrifts must follow CRA rules. The investment banks don't, nor did the now-bankrupt non-bank lenders such as New Century Financial Corp. and Ameriquest that underwrote most of the subprime loans.

These private non-bank lenders enjoyed a regulatory gap, allowing them to be regulated by 50 different state banking supervisors instead of the federal government. And mortgage brokers, who also weren't subject to federal regulation or the CRA, originated most of the subprime loans.
There's plenty more where that came from--including the fact that Fannie and Freddie make no loans to borrowers at all. If Sensebrenner truly told her that there were "loans being given out by Fannie Mae [and] Freddie Mac," than he was lying through his teeth. If he didn't say that, and Marrero just slipped it in herself, then she has done a poor job researching the question and is perhaps the wrong person to be writing about Congress and the financial crisis.

In addition, the funniest blog on the planet points to a study of CRA loans, and found that CRA loans constituted only 23% of all loans and 9.2% of high-cost loans; were twice as likely to be retained in the originating bank’s portfolio than loans made by other institutions; and were less likely to be foreclosed upon than other loans. That does not suggest to me that the CRA or Fannie and Freddie were at the root of this crisis--which is the result of bad loans, sold off like hot potatoes, that eventually go south. The data show CRA loans just don't fit that profile.

Marrero's job is to find those same studies and apply the facts to Sensenbrenner's baseless lies. It is not merely to reprint what he says with a weak he said-he said defense of blatant falsehoods. Sensenbrenner may be a biggity-wiggity in local politics. But a liar is a liar--and needs to be called one by the reporters who cover him.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

I'm Famous!

by folkbum

I somehow distilled this massive rant into exactly 200 words and the editorial page gods granted it life this morning.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Apparently, the oppo research has begun

by folkbum



Poor Tony Evers.

Give the People What They Want John

By Keith R. Schmitz

If John McCain wants a source for political advice, he could do no better than the crowd in Waukesha. McCain should run with the tip from such insightful politicos as James T. Harris who speaks for all people of color, "I am begging you, sir. I am begging you. Take it to him."

Do it John. Show That One his place.

Real charming was the seething sullen guy who brought his bar talk to the rally and was bellowing about socialism. You all did us proud.

In other words, in the next debate lay wood on Barack Obama. We're quite sure the Democratic nominee will have nothing to say. And it is probably best if he didn't, but just kept on talking about the economy.

The media creation McCain has fiddled with stories about questionable "pals" while our economic Rome burns.

The problem McCain has is the typical shiny objects the GOP used in elections past are not providing the necessary distraction and the only way out is to steal votes or yank people's franchise.

The real advice McCain should follow is from Joe Klein in Time magazine.
(I)t would be nice if McCain did the right thing and told his more bloodthirsty supporters to go home and take a cold shower.
You are watching losing, and losing it, in action.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Another victory for the free educational marketplace!

by folkbum

It seems that once again, involved and discerning parents demanded the highest academic standards from a school in the Milwaukee Parental Choice (voucher) Program--and when they didn't get that quality, they shut the school down:
A high school that joined the city's voucher program this year has been removed from the program by state officials because of building code violations that render it unsafe for students.
Wait! I must be reading that wrong. Voucher proponents assure us that parents will vote with their shoe leather and close down these sorts of bogus operations. Clearly it's not the state at work here, but the market forces. Let's try that again:
R&B Academy, 5150 N. 32nd St., is the third publicly funded private school to be launched by Ricardo Brooks and subsequently shut down by the state Department of Public Instruction because of problems.
No, no, no, no! That's not right! It's the demands of the market that shut down this bad apple, not the state. It must be. Just like restaurants that lose customers when the food poison people or recent TV shows by Stephen J Cannell. Once more:
At issue is whether this mid-semester closure will force the DPI to reconsider what's known as the "bad actor" rule. The state agency had kept a list of people banned from being involved in a voucher school for seven years, and Brooks was placed on that list after two voucher schools he started, Academic Solutions and Northside High School, were forced out of the program because of questions about their academic viability and safety. [. . .] The absence of such a rule infuriates Anthony Shunkwiler, who taught at Brooks' Northwest High School for four months before it was closed by the state in 2006. Shunkwiler, who now lives in Texas, said Thursday that he was never paid for the time he worked there.

He described Northwest as a chaotic place where students rolled marijuana cigarettes in class and brought firearms to school without fear of punishment. Classrooms lacked textbooks and Brooks was primarily concerned about maintaining a flow of cash from the state, Shunkwiler said.
Well, shut my mouth. I guess this really was the state, and not the market. I don't understand how that could be; the great promise of "choice" was that parents would lead, not the state. Oh, well. There's a lot I don't understand anymore, I guess.